THE federal government has taken its agricultural revolution a step further with the inauguration of the Nigeria Groundnut Value Chain, which is expected to produce 120,000 metric tonnes of groundnut grains valued at N24 billion. It said the inauguration was to revive the already abandoned groundnut production system in the country as well as restore the groundnut pyramids in the northern part of the country.
Akinwumi Adesina, minister of agriculture and rural development, said the groundnut value chain was new and has received budgetary provision for the first time in 2013. “The main objective of the value chain is to drive the development of the groundnut sub-sector in conjunction with stakeholders along the value chain to improve production, processing, marketing and export of the produce. “The groundnut value chain will produce an additional 120,000 metric tonnes of groundnut grains valued at N24 billion and supplied to small, medium and large scale processors,” he said.
According to Adesina, the project would be implemented directly in 15 states, including Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Bauchi, Benue, Borno and Gombe. Others are Kebbi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara states.
Technology Projects Poorly Funded
THE Senate Committee on Communication is not happy that most of the capital projects in the ministry of communication technology are poorly funded. The committee said its findings have revealed that only a few projects captured in the budget were completed, while some were left with just little attention.
At the 2014 budget defence of the ministry, Gilbert Nnaji, chairman of the committee, regretted that the government had abandoned the funding of the National Rural Telephony Project even though funds were appropriated for it. “The committee observes that while few projects had been fully completed, some were almost completed; others were sparsely funded, while some were not funded at all. A subhead under the 2013 budget namely: ‘construction and provision of infrastructure’, under which you find the National Telephony Project, was not funded at all. We believe that the take-off of this project is long overdue,” he said.
According to Nnaji, information available to the committee showed that in the last quarter of 2013, out of a capital expenditure budget of N2.5 billion for the federal ministry of communication technology, only N1.0 billion was released, leaving an outstanding sum of N1.5bn. He noted that the summary of the total allocations to the ministry’s capital expenditure in the fourth quarter was just 41.51 percent.
He wondered whether all the budgetary items that were either poorly funded or not funded at all were actually unimportant to the ministry. Nnaji further lamented the continued decrease in the ministry’s allocation and noted that only N14.6 billion was appropriated for it in the 2014 budget as against N15.6 billion last year, and N19.6 billion in the 2012 budget. “We further observed that the total capital expenditure proposal for 2014 (N4 billion) is about 23 percent lower than the N5.2 billion approved in 2013. Having taken time to study the 2013 capital performance appraisal forwarded to it, the committee has consequently resolved to pay a scheduled oversight visit to various locations of the ministry’s capital projects in the country.”
ATCON On NCC Sanctions of Telecom Operators
THE Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, has said that the N647.5m fine imposed on some of its members by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, for poor quality services will not change the current situation for the better. The telecom operators said the sanction was not necessary as the operators were not the cause of the problem.
Lanre Ajayi, president ATCON, said the fines were not necessary because the operators were not intentionally making their services to be poor. “These sanctions will become necessary if the operators are doing this on purpose. Sanctions can’t change anything; it is just a distraction. It will only make us to take our eyes off the real issues,” he said.
Ajayi said the issue of multiple taxation, Right of Way hitches and epileptic power supply, among others, were major problems that must be addressed if progress must be made in the telecoms industry. “Sanctions only attract applause from the public, but don’t address the real problems on the ground.”
The NCC had imposed the sum of N647.5 million on three service providers, Airtel, Globacom and MTN Nigeria, for failing to meet the key performance indicators for quality of service in January. The three companies were barred from selling new Subscriber Identification Module, SIM, cards with effect from March 1 till March 31, 2014, and from carrying out all promotions until they improve on the key performance indicators.
The details of the sanctions showed that Airtel and MTN were to pay N185 million each as fines, while Globacom was ordered to pay N277.5 million. In addition, each of the operators must pay the amounts on or before March 7, 2014, failure upon which they would be liable to pay N2.5 million per day as long as the contravention persisted.
The sanctions, which were communicated to the three operators in a letter signed by Eugene Juwah, executive vice chairman, NCC, said the commission would carry out an audit of the three companies on March 1, and also on March 31, 2014 to ensure that no sale of new SIM cards had taken place in any of the three networks within the period.
Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu
— Mar. 10, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT